What is there to say about Freddie Gibbs that hasn’t been said already? Over the last decade or so, the talented rapper has released gem after gem – two excellent collaborative albums with Madlib, one with Alchemist and Curren$y, as well as solo material that is equally as stellar as his collaborative projects. He is back with a surprise new album along with one of the greatest producers ever titled Alfredo. Alchemist has had an incredible year so far with fantastic collaborative albums with Boldy James and Conway the Machine, also producing for Jay Electronica, Westside Gunn and Roc Marciano. The chemistry between Freddie and Alchemist is just incredible and this new 10-track project is proof of it.
The lead single “1985” kicks the new album off with Freddie rapping his ass off on this weird, guitar-looped beat. His flow is impeccable as he references the harsh reality of street life. Freddie Gibbs’ anti-police sentiment throughout the album is fitting considering the protests happening in Minneapolis at the moment. The beat on “God Is Perfect” is ridiculous, as Freddie’s fast-paced flow and lyrics relating to gang violence hits hard, as he also references Das EFX’s 1992 “Mic Checka” on the hook. One of Alchemist’s biggest strengths as a producer, especially when working on full album, is his ability to seemingly change tempo, style and sound without breaking up the flow of the album. The tone shifts on “Scottie Beam” featuring Rick Ross (who, unsurprisingly kills his verse). The lush and intricate beat is met with crazy verses from both emcees. Freddie’s racially charged verse kicks off with “Yeah, the revolution is the genocide / Look, your execution will be televised,” a striking bar that is so painfully relevant now in Amerikkka. He also gives us an anecdote about being racially profiled by a cop. The gorgeous vocal sample on “Look At Me” is stunning and is one one of my favourites on the album. “Frank Lucas” with Benny The Butcher is a dark and menacing track, with both rappers flowing effortlessly over that heavy beat. The guitar leads and colourful synths on “Something To Rap About” with Tyler, The Creator are delicate and utterly gorgeous. Freddie speaks about money issues when dealing drugs – “Record labels downed me forty thousand on my first advance / Fucked up on my taxes, IRS kept me on payment plans / Crime fuckin’ pays, but once you paid, you gotta pay the man / Straight survival, right hand on the Bible, I won’t take the stand.” The tone of the sample and beat shifts for Tyler’s verse to a more colourful sound. Tyler’s most glaring and inspiring lyric is “I used to be a Goblin under them bridges, now I’m a businessman,” in reference to how he went from being an outcast back when he released his album Goblin back in 2011 to a successful businessman and creative. The beat on “Baby $hit” is dope, while the jazzy and soulful beat on “Babies & Fools” gives Freddie and Conway The Machine a beautiful soundscape to rap about love and family. The guitar leads on “Skinny Suge” are incredibly lush despite the personal and saddening verse Freddie delivers about how drugs have affected his life directly as well as those around him. Finally, the closer “All Glass” is a swirling, murky track, perfectly capturing Freddie Gibbs’ flow and cadence. It’s a stellar way to conclude such a dense and impressive album.
With Alfredo, Freddie Gibbs and Alchemist have released a short, concise, textured and introspective album that tackles issues of institutional racism and drug life with a sense of clarity. As mentioned, the chemistry between both of these incredible artists is just perfect, as they create a new masterpiece for the times. An amazing body of work, and I hope there’s more to come for these two.